Who’s lost their marbles?

Well it’s the Greeks if you must know and they did n’t lose them, we nicked them. High time we gave them back.

That aside and it’s a big aside and much more important than my ” What I did on my holidays” essay that follows, the Greeks were in my experience, the friendliest people I’ve met for a long time.

We’d gone to Spetses, and make no mistake about it it’s a long way from here in the UK. At least it is for us British who don’t travel well.(Don’t mention Brexit. Don’t you think that it sounds like a brand name for constipation? Just a thought ). Anyhow, back to the trip.

First of all I’d recommend Aegaen airways, not for the food which was like almost all airline food is not unlike school dinner at it’s worst ( or if you’re German wurst, and please don’t mention the Germans in Greece ) No the staff are the things that are notable. Now I know that airline hostesses are made up to the nines, blokes as well, but this lot looked like they’d strayed of the pages of Vogue. Except that they smiled genuine smiles, none of that fake smile hidden by the permafrost, the speciality of almost any advertising agency receptionist.

Greeted at Spetses by my old college chum Ros ( fine printmaker and watercolourist:
See her work here ) she had an idea where we awere staying. No road names on Spetses, so quite a puzzle finding anywhere. There are no cars on Spetses apart from a few taxis, they get around in the season by bus ( not many when we were there ) and loads of little scooters. Not all were as in fine condition as this model.

Rosscooter

These scooters can carry a family of four in close proximity and sometimes the dog, as well as a week’s shopping.

Rosdogbike

The dog also is trained to look after the bike when you are in the shops, and can possibly drive away if there’s a problem. I did see one scooter with an addition padded stool welded to the front platform for an additional person. There appear to be no crash helmets in existence on the island, speeds are generally quite modest and roads outside the main ones can be pretty rough and dusty. There are numerous bycycle repairman probably making a good living.

Rosbike

This is a relatively light load, two kids and a little bit of shopping.


 

So we’d arrived and now it was time for landscapes, in February!

Roslandscape

and boats

Rosorangeboat

They seem to use an orange paint on their boats to repair them, bright!

Riosships

These tubs apparently bring in extra water for the island

Rosgrapehyacybths

Grape hyacynths in February

Rosgreekshed

and nothing would be complete without a decent shed.


 

The Best Dressed Man in the Village


This is another of the pages from my collaboration with Gordon Thorburn and our book Some Missing Persons, now very nearly out of print. Gordon’s site If you are a new visitor to my site there are others scattered around here like this one Man who mends cars…


squadronldr2

A vacancy has arisen in the post of Honorary Village Figurehead, Titlingham St Margaret. Would suit retired major, colonel or wing commander with wife extant. Applicants must be prepared to chair Parish Council, school governors, et cetera.

Naval officers tended to retire on the coast, so the villagers of Titlingham, deep in the heart of Suffolk, always expected a senior soldier or airforce chap to come and lead them in their battles against the swirling tides of progress, and they were not disappointed.

The wife (extant), who was called Susan or Verity, also did chairing, of the village fete committee and the WI, and organised the flower rota in the church. She bought all her provisions at the village shop apart from, obviously, a few things that had to be sent from Fortnums.

He, known universally as The Major or, at a pinch, The Squadron Leader, drank halves of best, with a handle, three times a week at the pub. He’d hob-nob indiscriminately with the vicar, the poacher, the gamekeeper, the butcher, the horse dealer, the doctor (qv), the goat woman (also qv), the gardener up at the house and the mechanic who looked after his old Wolseley. He’d never tell secrets to the village policeman, not that the village policeman would want to know anyway.

The Major, you see, was not the squire or the lord of the manor. The Major was of the village. He was primus inter pares and most definitely primus, but he clipped his own hedge, grew his own roses, and called all the men (except the vicar and the doctor) by their first names, likewise the daughters thereof.

He doffed his brown trilby to the ladies and never smoked his pipe at the nativity play. His shoes (brown Oxford brogues with leather soles, hand made) were always polished to a mirror sheen. He generally wore one of his collection of six three-piece Savile Row tweed suits but could also be sighted on sunny afternoons, walking his two spaniels, in crimson or mustard cord trousers and cashmere cardigan.

He’s gone now. Defeated. Half the village is weekenders and commuters. In any case, retired officers these days don’t keep their ranks as titles and move to the country. Many of them didn’t even go to public school. Unable to retire gracefully, they write books, join security firms or become pop stars.

The poacher’s gone too. Can’t afford the house prices. A merchant banker, retired at 45, bought the old rectory the major used to live in and planted Leylandii all around it. The shop has shut, the pub is a restaurant with bar, and the school is struggling for numbers. A doctor from town holds a weekly surgery in the village hall and nobody has seen a policeman for months.

It’s sad, really. Very sad.

The view from the Victoria sponge

This blog covers a multitude of recent popular subjects. Baking being one of them. The drawing (it’s not a sketch for crying out loud ) is a first idea put down on paper very quickly and I just hope that I can get the same feeling onto the final as happened in this. It’s part of a series on the British which was somewhat interrupted by the Brexit shenanigans, and has caused me to think a little more about the project. We are not quite what I thought we were before the vote. Anyhow, politics aside, and that’s where they are best left for the time being, this is a drawing of a typical Summer fete day somewhere in the British Isles.

the-view-from-the-sponge205

 

The word fete is almost guaranteed a day of dark clouds and some teeming rain.Ladies of a certain age will have spent some time baking the obligatory Victoria Sponges for the teas which of course is the highlight of a local fete. The sweet peas will have been through the judging at the plant and produce table, and at least one of the gardeners entering the competition will grumble about the size of someone else’s onions.

Some of the ladies there will be wearing what we used to call pacamacs, which were basically plastic bags pretending to be coats, and will also have smaller plastic bags on their heads to prevent dampness getting to the ‘blue rinse’.

Dogs will be in evidence as will be the odd harrumphing retired colonel who, no doubt will be chewing on a pipe.Inevitably fetes happen only in villages, it’s rare to find them in towns ( they are then referred to as “street parties” and only happen when HRH reaches a significant milestone ). These days villages are mainly populated by incomers and people who can afford the massive prices for peasant cottages that are the norm these days.

So there you have it, Summer’s gone now and the village will be gathering large amounts of wood to burn an effigy on November the 5th to celebrate someone who tried to burn down the Houses of Parliament. Oh crikey! Back to politics.